The election of the new US president could be very bad news for horses, since, on his very first day in the White House, Trump sent out a memorandum ordering a freeze on the proposed ban on the activity of soring. This ban has been called for by activists, concerned about this controversial practice as it routinely causes a lot of pain to horses. Soring is where a show horse’s hooves or legs are deliberately irritated and made painful in order to accentuate the gait while in the ring. According to USA Today magazine around a week before Barak Obama stood down, the US Department of Agriculture completed a regulation updating the Horse Protection Act, which would in effect ban the practice of horse soring and put a stop to the ineffectual industry self-policing methods currently being used. This regulation can be enforced only once published in the Federal Register, and this did not happen before President Obama left office.
The soring methods which are to be banned, among others, would be: putting weights on the horse’s front hooves, placing a chain around the ankles during training, filing the hooves down to the soles so that they touch the shoe, and rubbing or injecting chemical irritants into the front legs. These are distressing things to read about for animal lovers and humane people generally.
Once in the Oval Office, President Trump sent out a memo which mandates all the rules not yet published, including the federal regulation on horse soring, to be returned to their relevant agencies for to be reviewed.
The Humane Society of the United States said in a statement that the USDA rule would reinforce regulations to end this cruel practice of soring - the deliberate inflicting of pain on the front limbs of Tennessee walking horses to achieve the show gait known as the Big Lick, induced by pain in the hooves. The Tennessee horses are expected to have a high-stepping gait, which is given scores as a part of the competitions.
The current freeze on the horse-soring ban update does not mean that the regulation will not be passed at some point. Once they have reviewed the legislation, the Trump administration may decide to pass it with no changes, so for the sake of horses suffering under this inhumane practice, let us hope that they do indeed push it through.
In order to enforce the ban under the new regulation, horse inspectors would have to be licensed under the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA. At present, the show horse industry provides and train its own inspectors, which critics say leads to a direct conflict of interests, meaning that horse soring is intentionally not acted upon.
Picture courtesy of www.huffpost.com